Here is a lovely design for a home office in a box. But has technology made it superfluous?

desk open
© Francesc Rifé Studio

I used to think that this kind of furniture would become a very big deal. I was wrong.

It is fascinating, watching how technology affects design. Back in 2002 I noticed how much equipment condo buyers were putting in their little apartments, with stereos, TVs and computers all separate items taking up space. I also noticed that more and more people were working from home, and I thought needed desks that would go away, that folded up at night to hide all the working stuff.

Jwho unit© Julia West Home
So, working with Julia West of Julia West Home, we built computers that were designed for entertainment, bought what was just about the first LCD monitor in the country from SGI ($3,500 for a 17” monitor!) and we designed and built furniture that folded out very much like the Office in a Box designed by Barcelona designer Francesc Rifé for Jose Martinez Medina.

It’s called the HO Cube for Home Office, and according to Interior Design, the unit is fully wired and fitted with file folders on the inside. (The black thing on top is an LED light.) Diana Budds of Fast Company writes that “with dark-wood veneer inside and matte ecru lacquer outside, it seems like an 1970s throwback.. that could be useful for people living in the cramped quarters of today.”

To me, it seems like a 2000s throwback, to when people needed space for files and peripherals and storage and we were trying to accommodate them. But Julia and I and our designs were overtaken by events and technology. Notebook computers became powerful and ubiquitous; iPhones did more and more of what previously needed a computer. Now I scan, Evernote and shred the few bills and documents that still come on paper, and when I am not at my little ledge of a standing desk, I am not fixed to any one spot but can work from wherever is convenient. (I am writing this on the dining room table). And I am a full-time writer and need a good keyboard; a lot of people just do everything on their phones.

The HO is a lovely design; I just wonder if its time has passed. I wonder how many people even have a desk at home anymore. Do you?


Here is a lovely design for a home office in a box. But has technology made it superfluous?
I used to think that this kind of furniture would become a very big deal. I was wrong.

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